Campus & Community

Countdown to Commencement: Graduate student aims to pursue her passion for international work

"The mental health needs of individuals in developing countries are not being met," says Mingwei Song. "International work is my passion. I care about people’s mental health through a global lens." Photo courtesy of Mingwei Song

“The mental health needs of individuals in developing countries are not being met,” says Mingwei Song. “International work is my passion. I care about people’s mental health through a global lens.” Photo courtesy of Mingwei Song

A native of China, Mingwei (Ophelia) Song came to DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) after earning a BA in psychology from Juniata College in Pennsylvania. She will receive an MA in international disaster psychology from GSPP at Commencement ceremonies in June.

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to DU?

A: I was very impressed by the International Disaster Psychology (IDP) program when I came for my interview. I was especially impressed by the amazing faculty team [and] their groundbreaking work in the field. DU is a well-known school, and its great reputation makes me more competitive when applying for jobs than students from other graduate schools. Also, DU has many well-known professors, which has helped me network with many impressive professionals in the field.

 

Q: Why did you choose the IDP program? Do you plan to work in your field after graduation?

A: I have experienced three earthquakes in my life. Mental health services in disaster situations are insufficient. The mental health needs of individuals in developing countries are not being met. International work is my passion. I care about people’s mental health through a global lens. I plan on first getting my professional counselor license after graduation, and then I hope to work for NGOs and other international organizations.

 

Q: Did you study or work abroad during your time at DU? If so, where? How did the experience change you?

A: We are required to work abroad during our first summer break in the program. I went to Malawi, Africa, where I had the chance to learn how a mental health organization functions in a developing country. I can see how my degree can help me work in these countries in the future. There is a tremendous need for professional mental health workers in developing countries, and I think I can contribute to the improvement of their mental health services.

 

Q: Did you have an internship or do any volunteer work during your time on campus? If so, how did those experiences help prepare you for life after DU?

A: We are required to have internships in the field each year in the program. I worked at Synergy, a Denver-based residential youth correction facility, in my first-year field placement. I spent my second year at Maria Droste counseling center, also in Denver. These internship experiences allowed me to apply and practice the knowledge I learned from my classes and provided me the opportunity to challenge my skills and learn about my strengths and weaknesses.

 

Q: Is there a class and/or faculty member who stands out as particularly influential? Why?

A: Gwen Mitchell has been my advisor throughout my time in the program. She has always been there for me whenever I need her. She has been extremely supportive and understanding. She really understood my struggles with being an international student, and she tried to help me in any way she could to make my life easier. Her experiences in the field have inspired my own work in the field. Her passion to serve underserved populations moved me deeply.

 

Q: What is the biggest lesson you are taking away from your time at DU?

A: DU really challenged me to make the impossible possible and taught me that initial rejection or failure does not mean a task is impossible, but rather that it is just harder to get to the final destination.

 

DU’s spring graduate Commencement ceremony is at 4 p.m. June 3; visit the Commencement page for more information.

 

 

 

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